I can't stop thinking about the beatitudes.
There are probably a lot of reasons for this.
For example, we just had a version of the beatitudes for All Saints Day. Suddenly, they're in my face and in my ears and in my heart again, as we started winding our way through the sermon on the mount last week. I wasn't preaching, so I just sat and listened and pondered all the blesseds. The preacher let us know that instead of "Blessed are the...." we could instead say, "Happy are...." as in "Happy are the poor in spirit." "Happy are the merciful." "Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
"Happy are those who mourn."
On the face of it, this seems like an absurd sentence. Those who are mourning are not happy. They are the opposite of happy. They are bereft. It has only been a few days since I left the home of a woman who was dying. Her husband of sixty-six years and her two grown sons wept like children. It's slightly less offensive to go back to the original wording.
"Blessed are those who mourn."
Still absurd, but I keep turning and turning over this sentence, wondering what Jesus could possibly mean. Of course, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. But, like being merciful or pure in heart or hungering for justice, there must be a positive value, a "kingdom of God" value to mourning. What does Jesus have in mind?
Who mourns anyway?
Only those who have dared to love. Only those who have given themselves away, who have shared their lives and risked being hurt. Only those who have risked throwing in their lot with another person, or other people, people who are imperfect, people who will leave, fail them, get sick, someday even die. Only those who have opened their hands and opened their hearts, even to be rejected sometime.
Blessed are those who mourn. You might as well say, "Blessed are those who love," because among us mortals, love always, inevitably, comes to grieving. Someone dies and someone else is left behind, and it doesn't hurt less if you had sixty six good years, and you trust the promise of the resurrection. You may be comforted by the promises of the resurrection, but you are still grieving, because you love.
Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who have given themselves away, who hare shared their lives and risked being hurt. Blessed are those who have risked living in community, who have entrusted their lives, their cause, their hopes, to another person, to other people, who will love them, fail them, hunger and thirst for righteousness with them. Blessed are those who love one another. Blessed are those who mourn.